Over 65 years of hockey isn't enough for 80-year-old Patricia Bird

Birdy in action hit - web

In December 2019, England Hockey received a lovely email from Phaedra Casey from Iver and Burnham HC.

Patricia Bird aka Birdy could possibly be the Guinness world record holder for the oldest woman playing Hockey.

The current record for 'The oldest hockey player (female)' is Anne Graves (UK, b. 5 March 1935) who played a full match aged 80 years and 9 days, in Stevenage on 14 March 2015.

On Saturday 14 December 2019 Pat Bird played a full match at Aylesbury, at the age of 80 years and 65 days, beating the previous record by a couple of months. We are waiting to hear if the record has been broken!

Patricia's Story

At 80 years young, Patricia Bird aka “Birdy” still picks up her hockey stick every weekend.  

Patricia first started playing at the age of 13 in 1953 at Slough Technical School. It was in 1972 that Patricia joined the High Duty Alloys Mixed team where she met the love of her life (after Hockey), her husband Paul, with the pair now married for 57 years. 

Burnham Ladies c late 1980s
Birdy and her team in the late 1980s

Patricia was the founding member of Burnham Ladies team in 1992. The team played friendlies against Division 3 opponents which, when Burnham amalgamated with Iver in 2015, they became a part of Try Sports 3 Counties League and could play competitive hockey against them. 

founding of Burnham team by Birdy cutting

Nothing has stopped Patricia playing hockey, not even her three children or previously broken wrist. When she fell pregnant, she stopped for just four months and started playing again after just six weeks. She parked the buggy on the side-line, which quickly turned into a double buggy and then a double and a single buggy giving them the best view and later leading to them all playing hockey alongside their mum.

In December 2018, Patricia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery in December and January, radiotherapy in March and was back on the pitch in no time.

Phaedra said, "I was the captain at this time [December 2018], and I found it very hard to keep Pat off the pitch. In the end I said she could come and do half a match after the oncologist said she could try, and I made her husband come along to the pitch side to make sure I could get her to go off if she looked tired or unwell.  Pat played the whole match and has played a full or 3/4 of nearly every match since”. 

Patricia Bird V NTHC
Patricia Bird (Green) Iver and Burnham V Holly Harris (Red) Newbury and Thatcham March 2019

Patricia has been playing hockey for over 65 years and has a few highlights from her career so far.  

In 2018 she was invited to a tournament in Wellingborough to play for LX Ladies, a touring team of ex England Ladies. With the success of winning a medal in 2018, Patricia was invited back in 2019 where she played for three men's teams; Wales, England and the local Kettering team. This led to her proudest hockey moment, as she recalled: “My proudest moments were receiving a medal with the three England Lions on it at the Wellingborough Festival for two years running.” 

But it doesn’t stop there, being a part of the Hockey Family has led to a series of wonderful memories including two surprise birthday parties with her teammates for her 70th and 80th birthdays, she said: “They really were surprises as I don’t broadcast the fact about having a birthday.” 

Birdy 80th birthday Oct 2019
Birdy 80th birthday Oct 2019

Patricia ended with “Hockey has always been a huge part of my life and I can’t quite figure out how to stop!”

If you've got great stories to share from our wonderful sport, please email stories@englandhockey.co.uk

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